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‘I never quit’ – Trayvon witness Rachel Jeantel graduates high school
Rachel Jeantel was thrust in the national spotlight last June when she took the stand in the George Zimmerman trial as the prosecution’s supposed ‘star witness.’
Instead, Jentel quickly became a target for public ridicule due to her demeanor in court and the fact she was outed as illiterate on national TV.
In the months since then Jeantel has worked hard to turn her life around and in doing so keep a promise she had made to Martin to graduate high school.
At the time of last June’s trial, Jeantel had a fourth-grade reading level.
The child of immigrant parents, Jeantel speaks Haitian Creole, Spanish and English, but at times the court reporter and jurors struggled to decipher her dialect and street slang.
Her speech on the stand often detracted from her testimony, as the then 19-year-old used terms such as ‘creepy’ and ‘cracker’ to describe Zimmerman, whom she said was aggressively following Martin before their phone call was silenced during the scuffle.
It was during a break in Jeantel’s car crash of a testimony that her attorney, Rod Vereen, decided that he was going to help her.
‘I didn’t like what took place in social media, and the attacks she received nationwide. I couldn’t turn my back to that,’ he told ABC.
‘And I couldn’t turn a blind eye to the problems that I knew she had.’
Vereen put in place a support network of people to help Jeantel with her schooling.
The tutors worked with Jeantel for seven hours a day, and she described them as ‘very, very, very tough.’
But she added, ‘That’s what I needed.’
Jeantel was sent to a new school and last month she graduated from high school.
She was presented with her diploma in her hometown of Miami, less than three miles from where Trayvon is buried.
The moment was made extra special of Jeantel because Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, attended.
‘Her coming is like having Trayvon there saying, “You did it. You proved people wrong,’” Jeantel told Yahoo.
Jeantel now speaks with a new found confidence after everything that she has been through.
‘I did it,’ she said. ‘The witness who didn’t know how to speak English knows how to speak English through the 12th grade now. I never quit.’